The Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden is one of the many highlights of Texas' Zilker Botanical Garden.
The tranquil garden features ponds fashioned into ideograms, which spell out the city name of Austin. Texas is also the home of featured jewelry designer Christy Klug.
Klug's journey to becoming a jewelry artist is one of drive, determination, and a constant evolution of skills. Her advent into the field took shape once she moved to Austin, Texas twelve years ago.
She accepted a position managing a local art gallery while also juggling employment at the gift shop for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and attending the museum's school.
The daily contact with great art furthered Klug's fascination with it; however, the work of post World War II, German stained glass artists served as the catalyst that would ultimately lead her to jewelry design and creation.
"Exposure to art everyday at the museum and studying at the museum school fed my passion for art," she says, "but jewelry making came years later. I was working mostly in the glass department of the museum school, and also painting and drawing.
My jewelry is inspired by my interest in stained glass design. Many of Germany's old cathedrals and churches were destroyed by bombing during World War II, and after the war there was an amazing convergence of visionary architects who rebelled against painted glass techniques by using the lead that divided each piece of glass to create powerful, abstract lines."
At the point Klug decided to pursue her jewelry-making aspirations, she only had a basic working knowledge of the art form. During the course of several years, although a definite challenge, Klug would learn--largely on her own--not only metalsmithing but also enameling.
She candidly recalls some of her experiences. "I took a class in basic jewelry fabrication because it was a way to blend my love for dramatic self-expression with my passion for art.
I jumped head long into this field. I was truly driven to learn all that I needed to in order to bring my ideas to life. Early on, I had applied to and was accepted into Baltimore's American Craft Show.
I had three months to create a line, but I didn't know how to solder at that point so I crazy glued all the backs of my earrings. My techniques, of course, have evolved since then and I eventually taught myself enamel work, all of which I am very proud of."
Her design approach is very clear-cut and basic with a focus on contours and lines so fluid and smooth the pieces resemble miniature sculptures. The contrasts of 18- and 22-karat gold, sterling, and/or oxidized silver, as well as the creamy and powder white vitreous enamel details, lend to a primeval yet elegant appearance.
She creates pieces that evoke femininity but not within a delicate construct. The evocation instead is more womanly than girlish, an understated embodiment of feminine strength and authority.
On the one hand, the quietly distinctive items seem weighty and substantial with subtle details that add visual impact, like the scatter of small cutouts on her Stitch Ring. In other instances, pieces are buoyant like the overall design of her snowflake-like Arp pieces, which also resemble composites of Japanese kanji symbols.
"My work has always been about line, mostly pierced line in the metal. These explorations of line are expressed through hand cutting the lines into metal," she explains.
"In metal, I have found a medium that I can sculpt and mold into beautifully organic and dramatic forms that are both sensual and theatrical."
Just last month, Klug was chosen among 1,400 applicants to exhibit her jewelry at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in Pennsylvania.
Photo 1 (top right): 22-Karat Gold and Oxidized Sterling Silver Okano CuffPhoto 2 (bottom left): Vrubel Set made with 22-Karat Gold, Fine and Oxidized Silver, Vitreous Enamel and Tahitian Pearls